Steelhead

Valentine’s Day

This weekend was definitely one for the ladies!

We headed out with an old high school friend and her boyfriend who happens to be as fishy as us and had a great day!

Not only was it great to catch up with her and get to know her boyfriend, they treated us with so much wonderful food! ahahaha. They are welcome to join us anytime and Jeff has designated Jess the official cook anytime she comes fishing :)

It was a little bit tough deciding where to go because we have recently gotten a lot of rain. Even when we got to the river, we were very skeptical about whether or not we would catch anything. After about 2 hours, Jeff finally hooks a nice little buck! 30 minutes later, Jess is hooked up! She’s only been fishing for a little over a year, but she picked up really quickly, goes often, and ended up out-fishing the boys (of course). When we have new friends join us, I always am quick to jump on the bow with them and make sure they are fighting the fish correctly so we can get their fish to the boat. I was ready to take this approach and she actually didn’t need my help! Steve has clearly taught her well and she was able to bring her fish to the boat like a pro!

She got this nice super hen shortly after Jeff’s fish

From that point on, there seemed to be a hook up every 30 minutes after that! Jess got another nice hen, although it was wild. I also got 2 fish, and unfortunately, our new friend, Steve, could only get trout to bite his hook.

Our friend Kari and Derrick also got a couple fish, but more importantly, she got this great hatchery hen on a yarnie!

There was a little joke that we had in our boat regarding a very optimistic co-worker of mine. He seems to be the most positive person on the planet, and even after just 10 minutes of conversation with him, you walk away feeling good about yourself and life. We decided to adopt his positivity and while Jess and Jeff designated themselves to his team, the whole boat ended up having a great time full of fish, laughter, and positivity.

So Jess and Steve, I hope we can fish again soon! A trip like that is exactly what I needed to take my mind off my studies and work :) Thank you guys!

Cowlitz Lemonade

It seems as though I have let life get in the way of fishing again. And when I think about it like that, I tend to obviously think that life events take a precedence over fishing until I get to a burdened point in life and finally realize why. It’s not that fishing should remain more important that life events, but that fishing is my release for life’s lemons and I quickly forget how to make lemonade. Once I realize that the steps to making lemonade include fishing, my life seems to fall back into place.

I’ve gone out here and there over the past month, but my heart was heavy, fishing felt like a chore and I couldn’t take my mind off the things going on at home, and I wasn’t catching which probably contributed to the slump that I was in. I go through this process about 2 times a year and thankful to say that I’m over this one and I was anxious and eager to hit the river bright and early Saturday morning.

We’re in springer mode although the thought of actually putting fish in the boat is always at the top of the list so we hit the Cowlitz to target a bit of springers, but get some blood in the box by targeting steelhead as well. I got out of slump hooked up for about 5 seconds only to be left with a bare hook and a happy steelhead that got away. I did manage to land one which I was quite excited about!

Brothers Jerry and Jason also got into some nice ones!

Sunday I was feeling even better and even more excited. We headed to Blue Creek and first pass, Zack gets a fish on! Second pass, my turn! Well this was a good way to start the day! Shall we try 3 for 3 passes? We unfortunately weren’t so fortunate, but we ended up with 4 in just a couple of short hours before it slowed way down.

Jeff always runs the boat and anyone that knows me, knows how much I hate running the sled. I’m terrified, I’ll row a drift boat all day but the sled creates so much anxiety through my veins, that I cry. It’s expensive, powerful, fast and I don’t want to be the reason something happens to it. Well, Jeff hooked up and when it’s an average or small fish, he stays on the motor and fights the fish, but this time, it was a big, hot steelhead and he immediately ran to the front of boat which left me with the motor. As I try to remain calm, I’m delegating the others on the boat and trying my best to keep the boat around the fish and make it as easy as possible to get this fish in the net so Jeff can regain control of the boat.

Of course it’s not that easy. It was several minutes of shear torture (but no tears this time) as we drifted slowly towards the next corner which had a few ripples which means I might have to actually maneuver around them or lift the motor up. I’m warning Jeff that he better hurry up because I can’t do this and he just wants to patiently land this fish.

Finally! It’s in the net and I immediately go for his rod so he can get the motor. It was a very nice hen full of glorious eggs that will become the next batch of steelhead bait, but I needed a beer after that. It was entirely too much.

My life is still a little bit hectic, but much like running the boat, I’m getting better and better at the things that make me uncomfortable and are unexpected. Once I realize that the ripples aren’t as bad as they look and that I can do this, I am able to remember how to make lemonade :)

The Sweet Release

I didn’t go fishing last weekend for a number of reasons, including a ton of rain, homework, and a very important meeting on the Chehalis basin. So this weekend, I was beyond excited to go fishing and release some stress! I put the homework away at 8 PM on Friday and turned on the TV. I hadn’t put homework away before 11 PM for the last 10 days and it felt so good!

We woke up Saturday and I was wide-eyed and ready to go. Like when we go out for our first springer trip of the year, neither of us sleep the night before and we both wake up before the alarm clock and don’t sleep on the way down there.

I was a  bit off my game and wasn’t paying very much attention at first. I’ll admit, all I could think about was how I needed to schedule my weekend and what homework I was going to accomplish before Monday morning. I was still having a good time, but I wasn’t relaxing like I should have been. Thankfully, the cards clearly knew how stressed I was and made it work for me anyways!

To be honest, I’ve never caught a steelie on a pink worm! EVER! I haven’t really fished them much and my confidence in them was a little low unless I was on the OP chasing wild steelhead. This year, I said I wanted to fish a worm until I caught one so Jeff tied up a bunch of worm leaders. Good thing about being busy, I get out of leader duty except while I’m on break :)

I was still being a bit lazy and absent minded and was trying to drink my energy drink when my float went down. Of course it happens at this very moment when I’m not looking and I only have one free hand. I throw down my water bottle and set the hook with just a tiny bit of force and feel very subtle headshakes. “That’s a fish”. Maybe a trout or sucker fish, but a fish for sure. It quickly came in continuing with the subtle headshakes enough for me to tell everyone else to stay in the water because this wasn’t keeper.

We only had about 2 ft of visibility so we had to get it all the way to the surface next to the boat to see what it was and as fast as we realized it was a big beautiful steelhead, it realized what was going on and went ape-shit crazy. It started bulldogging me like a king and doing quick, short runs. I kept my calm (which is rare) and so did the rest of the boat as we began working as a team getting rods out of the way, net ready, motor ready, and drag loosened. I was playing this baby to the finish. I wanted to savor every second of this fight and make sure I did everything I could to make sure I kept him on the hook. One big 20 yard run was enough for that feeling to go away. Drag tightened, and I’m laying down the wood. I won’t lose this fish.

 

We get it in the net and head to shore for a quick pic. The beautiful rose blushed buck was just what I needed to feel the sweet release of stress. This is what I live for and this is why I have sleepless nights during the week so I can get my homework done. What was I doing thinking about regular life stuff on the river?! How dare I bring that on the boat and bring that into Mother Nature’s world. This was not the time or place for that.

I took water in the boot and water up my sleeve and felt nothing but sheer, joyous release as we let the 14 lb wild buck go. I was done. That was all I needed all weekend.

 

Of course, I wanted to see more and went back out on Sunday to see if we could get some more but we were left empty handed. Jeff was really disappointed, but I was satisfied. In fact, I was grateful. I would have been happy with a 7 lb hatchery fish and I was blessed with a beautiful 14 lb native buck with the prettiest shade of pink on his cheeks. Bring it on work week!

Changed up fishing buddies

My fishing buddy was stolen by Joey Princen to fish for beautiful, wild steelhead so I headed out with our buddies Jake and Grayson to search for anything chrome :)

As always, I’m anxious to fish without Jeff no matter what the situation. With my crazy, busy schedule, it’s rare that we get time to hang out so fishing time IS when we hangout AND I always am eager to bring him back a fish. Doesn’t matter what it is, I’m like a little cat bringing a dead mouse to his feet. Mostly desire to show the teacher what I’ve learned and can accomplish on my own, partly my girly side trying to impress my beau <3

Right now, almost all the rivers are LOW and CLEAR! A few exceptions to the rivers made up primarily of glacial melt, but I wasn’t fishing one. With almost 10 feet of visibility in the water, I spent the week prior tying up the smallest little 1/4 oz jigs in the most subtle winter run patterns I could come up with. I fully intend on writing all about my choice for jig fishing in low, clear water this week :)

With just one other boat at the launch, I made my first cast in the morning with my most confident jig. It must have been nothing but wishful thinking to hope for another fish on the first cast of the day because I cast straight into a tree. Yes, even I cast into trees on occasion. Great……We fished our float and jigs for a little while before switching up to bobberdoggin. A technique that is easy to fish from a moving boat and great in almost all water conditions. This technique was new to Jake and Grayson so I was eager and excited to pass on some knowledge that had been taught to me. They were a little skeptical but we were over halfway finished with our drift, fishless, first boat down river, and at this point, was only out there for the good company.

I hit the first fish and while it wasn’t much, it was bright, hatchery, in the net, and a perfect little mouse to drop off on the porch.

On to the next fish….You know when you have something you’re really not confident in on your line? And you don’t want to change up for the sake of time or missing water so you fish it secretly hoping to cast into a tree or drift over a log under water?Maybe a jig that looks bulky and big in the low water, or a washed out skein with only a few eggs in your favorite king whole? Well, Grayson had a blue easy egg on that was intended as a joke and he just couldn’t shake it. Apparently, it was for good reason when he hooked into a chrome bright, scrappy 10lb’er. After a few head shakes, the elusive fish became even more elusive when it broke free from the 10lb leader.

Grayson was heartbroken, but we were glad we were getting into some fish, and still, having a really good time. Just a few minutes later I hooked into a fish that will haunt me for a LOOONNNGGG time. As I set the hook, the fish begins absolutely screaming upriver. She showed herself with two cartwheels and began charging the boat. As I reel as fast as I could to keep up with her coming at me, she too, broke free from my light line.

These were chrome bright, fresh from the salt steelhead. It this clear water, you make your choice to fish light gear, but I guess you have to remember the type of fish you will be catching should you be so lucky to hook into one. We didn’t get to see another fish, but I was glad to bring home something and have a really good day to put under my belt.

Jeff caught this beauty on his little trip and while he had about as much fun as I did on our separate trips, we missed our company and the teamwork that keeps us strong.

 

I’m still not skunked on steelhead if you count summer run, but only Andrew was so lucky to bring a winter run into the boat on Sunday. Not a bad way to go out in 2013 but here’s to an even better start on New Year’s Day! May the new year bring you many fish and even more memories to cherish forever!

~Bry